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2012 fatal scaffolding fall leads to criminal charges

Construction company owners in California must comply with federal safety regulations, and failure to do so can lead to criminal charges being filed. On the day after Christmas in 2012, a carpenter died after a scaffolding fall at a residential construction site in San Francisco. An accident investigation by the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that safety violations contributed to the worker's death.

The 51-year-old carpenter had worked for the construction company for years before the fatal accident in which he fell onto a concrete floor from an 18-foot-high scaffold structure. Cal/OSHA investigators found that the scaffold was not fitted with guardrails that might have prevented the fall. Furthermore, it was determined that the worker was not wearing a safety harness at the time.

The construction company owner and the person who was the site foreman at the time of the accident were subsequently charged with involuntary manslaughter, along with two labor code violations. The two accused men, both age 61, surrendered on July 1 and pleaded not guilty at a recent court hearing. Both are free on $50,000 bail.

The district attorney underscored the importance of compliance with safety regulations, taking into account the significant increase in construction taking place in the city. Whenever a California family loses a loved one in a work-related accident, such as a scaffolding fall, financial relief may be pursued. Most workers are covered by the workers' compensation insurance fund that offers death benefits to covered dependents. Compensation for a funeral and burial typically form part of the compensation, along with a financial package that commonly covers a percentage of lost wages.

Source: sfgate.com, "2 plead not guilty in 2012 S.F. construction accident death", Vivian Ho, Sept. 24, 2015

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